By sports editor Russell Bennett
Cora Lynn delivered a stark reminder of just how devastating its own brand of footy can be on the big stage when it dismantled local nemesis Kooweerup early in their semi-final at Korumburra’s showgrounds on Sunday afternoon.
There was plenty of conjecture surrounding the state of the playing surface in the lead-up to the clash – particularly given Saturday night’s wet weather – but there were no hiccups for the first semi-final, despite the odd soft patch here and there.
Instead, it was how the Cobras blazed their way across the surface that set tongues wagging at the ground. They got off to a scintillating start and led 7.3 (45) to 1.3 (9) at quarter-time – not only setting the tone for the contest, but doing so in such a way that there’d be no coming back for the Demons.
Kooweerup kicked the first goal of the game, but were completely outplayed from that point on.
Jai Rout (two goals), Nathan Langley (three goals), and Nathan Gardiner (three goals) were on fire early forward of centre, while Chris Johnson and the Briggs boys – Jaxon and Heath – shone through the middle.
Jaxon Briggs (two goals), who dealt with plenty of attention throughout the contest, seemed just a class above most – with his explosiveness in and around stoppages, his work rate, his intensity, and his smart disposal all real standouts.
Rout, too, was a key difference-maker, while the likes of Gardiner benefited greatly from Cora Lynn’s improved quality of forward 50 entries.
There were rightfully plenty of questions raised about Cora Lynn’s ability to bounce back after its disappointing qualifying final loss at the hands of the Seagulls at Kooweerup – when they lowered their colours in a number of key areas.
But the Cobras answered those questions emphatically against the Demons, with many of their strongest contributors bouncing back from uncharacteristically poor games.
They were switched on right from the start of the clash, and while the game was still there to be won, simply refused to let the foot off the throat of the Demons who were left searching for answers.
Langley was particularly lethal early – not only with his ability to hit the scoreboard directly, but also to provide a strong link-up option across half-forward.
Down back, the Cobras – led by the likes of Shaun Sparks – were much more cohesive as a unit, showing the sort of desperation and intensity that drove them to such an impressive start to their 2019 campaign.
This was a clash that had plenty of feeling in it early – predictably so.
But the Cobras refused to dip their intensity, or take their focus off the task at hand – ultimately winning by 60 points, 17.19 (121) to 9.7 (61).
Any Tooradin-Dalmore or Phillip Island people there to witness it unfold would have seen a performance much more resembling the Cobras’ best – and right at the business end of the season.
The Demons had a number of players who worked hard throughout the day – including some of their more experienced group such as Nathan Muratore, Joel Gibson, Luke Walker and Mitch Collins, and youngsters Bailey Galante and Matt Voss, but the side was well beaten as a collective, and taught a lesson in accountability, in what was Ben Collins’ last game at the helm.
There looks like being plenty of change at Denhams Road next season, but by the same token there’s much to build on moving forward for whoever takes the reins next.
The Demons have a young, promising core complemented by some strong, consistent veterans and they once again showed that their own, unique brand of pressure footy – when brought to the table – is a proven finals-winning formula.
But the Cobras displayed some of their best footy in the first semi-final – the kind of game that’s capable of taking it up to, and beating either the Seagulls or the Bulldogs in the coming weeks.
Next up for Cora Lynn – a rematch of the qualifying final at the preliminary final stage: Tooradin-Dalmore at Kooweerup.
Look out for one hell of an enthralling crescendo to season 2019.
Click below to watch the Cobras belt out their famous song in the Giants’ home rooms at the showgrounds…